daily archive: 10/19/2005
Books, books, books
Time magazine lists the 100 best English-language from 1923 to the present. What can I say -- some of them I've liked, some of them I've loved, some I hated and some I never heard of. Anyway, here's the list: TIME Magazine - The Complete List - ALL-TIME 100 Novels
From Mel's Diner
and be sure to check out Melusina's book summaries.
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Iran's response to British accusations: I know you are, but what am I?
This is really pathetic.
Iran is blaming Britain for the suicide bombings in its oil-rich, Arab
-rich, restive Khuzestan. This comes after Britain accused Iran (with plenty of evidence) of involvement in bombing Iraqis and British soldiers, and both the US and Britain issued stern warnings to the mullahs.
They must think their audience is stupid.
And they often are, unfortunately.
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Insiders' Money Flees Iran
Top Iranians moving their assets abroad
Iran might be talking tough, but the word on the streets of Teheran is that prominent Iranians are running scared. Iranian businessmen are smuggling their assets out of the country, fearful of a U.S. attack that would topple the Iranian regime.
Iranian officials report a massive outflow of capital, much of it to Central Asia and the Gulf. Iranians are emptying their bank accounts and establishing companies for the day when they need to flee their homeland because of an economic collapse or U.S. invasion. The figures being reported by Iranian regime officials are astounding. In September, Hashemi Shahraudi, director of the Higher Judiciary Council in Teheran, said Iranians have sent $700 billion abroad since 1980. Shahraudi said the capital flight has turned from a trickle to a flood over the past year.
The picture presented by Shahraudi and other officials portray an Iranian businessman without any trust in the regime. Iranians have established more than 10,000 companies in the UAE port of Dubai. Thousands of other companies have been established in neighboring Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey.
Already, Teheran has ordered government-owned banks to ban loans of more than 300 million riyals, or about $45,000. Teheran's fear is that private companies will borrow from banks to buy dollars and euros.
Iranian businessmen are willing to invest in their native country only when Teheran pledges not to impose its laws. So, 3,500 Iranian companies operate in so-called free trade zones on the islands of Kish and Qeshm in the Gulf.
In all of Iran, 18,000 private companies are registered with the Finance Ministry for tax purposes. Officials acknowledge that a key reason many others refuse to register their businesses is fear of government expropriation.
What officials don't say is that senior members of the Teheran regime own many of these offshore and foreign-based companies. Indeed, the trend seen by Iranian and foreign sources is that senior Iranian officials, regime figures and even clergy are preparing a nest egg abroad just in case.
They know the end is near, too.
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The father of the American rocket program
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Assad's other high-level suicide
has this fascinating account of another suicide at high levels in Bashar Assad's Baathist regime, that of his Prime Minister in 2000.
Syria 's minister of interior and "strongman" in Lebanon for more than a decade Ghazi Kan'an is the second high-ranking Syrian official reported to have committed suicide since Bashar Al-Assad became president of Syria. The first was prime minister Mahmoud Al-Zu'bi, in June 2000.
Following the death of Al-Zu'bi in 2000, Al-Ahram Al-Arabi published an article by its editor Dr. Abd Al-Mun'im Al-Sa'id that hinted at an indirect connection between the Syrian government and Al-Zu'bi's death.
The following are excerpts from Dr. Sa'id's article: 
"I do not know what went through the Prime Minister's mind, in those dramatic and daunting moments before he put his pistol in his mouth and fired the bullet that brought his life to an end. Definitely, it was a special moment in the life of this man, as he felt the chill of the metal on his lips – or its warmth, depending on the room temperature – as he let his fingers slide to the trigger, and squeezed it. Before a man severs his ties with the world of the living to enter the other world from which no one has returned… they say his entire life flashes before his eyes like a movie."
"In this film, there was a story of a great ascent. It is not easy, generally speaking, to rise to the status of a Prime Minister. In the third world, the ascent is even tougher. In countries that are governed by a single strong party with an 'eternal message,' like the Ba'ath party, the difficulties are almost insurmountable...
"However, Mr. – or rather, Comrade – Mahmoud Al-Zu'bi made it to the top; although the top position of a Prime Minister in our countries is usually a bit insubstantial, since the President holds the real power. However, the president's preoccupation with important issues of the homeland and sometimes the world grants the head of the executive branch a great kingdom in which he can operate. His influence and the respect he is granted grow with the trust he enjoys from the top of the pyramid. Since he manages the daily affairs and controls the public funds, the power in his hands is not small.
"There is no doubt that Comrade [Al-Zu'bi] invested great effort in reaching the high post. He had to compete with people whose power and influence matched his own. Although the difficulties encountered on his way up were many, the struggle to remain at the top for thirteen consecutive years was even greater. Not only did he have to compete with many ambitious people, but he also had to buy many loyalties and sponsors so as to remain the chosen man for the job, and in order to continue to keep his grip on the government, and the resources within his reach…
"The moment our man reached the top may also have been the moment in which his fall to the abyss began. Beneath the narrow peak lies a broad plain inhabited by the jealous and ambitious, those hungry for power and fortune. All of them tried to grab Comrade Al-Zu'bi by the throat and drag him down to the bottom. It took them thirteen years to succeed. When the moment [finally] came, his star faded. His comrades discovered, or maybe decided to reveal what they had known for a long time, that this high official was corrupt.
"The faces of his [comrades] passed one by one before [the Prime Minister's] eyes when the security agents came to escort him to the interrogation. It was a tough moment, no doubt. Comrade [Al-Zu'bi] knew what dark fate awaited him. [Feeling] his chest squeezed, he saw in his mind's eye a vision of his wife, Nawal Al-Darubi, and his children, Muflih and Hamam, who he made sure would be as happy as sons of a Prime Minister should be. Such children are often gifted only when their father is in government…
Read the whole thing
and marvel at the perilous prospects of a totalitarian's lackey.
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Iran threatens US with terrorism
Did you hear a single thing
in the media about a top general in Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corp threatening the United States with suicide attacks on "all [our] weak points" last week? No? I didn't think so.
Tehran, Iran, Oct. 11 – A top general of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps issued on Tuesday a direct threat to the United States and its allies, warning that the Islamic Republic had identified “all the weak points of our enemies" and has suicide operation volunteers “ready to strike at these sensitive locations" in retaliation to any attack.
“We know all of the enemies’ weak points and what to do against them. Today, we have ready martyrdom-seeking individuals who are ready to strike at these sensitive points", Brigadier General Mohammad Kossari, who heads the Security Bureau of Iran’s Armed Forces, told the state-owned news agency ILNA.
Kossari said that Iran’s “enemies" were bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and were looking for a way to escape.
“Enemies of a nuclear Iran could not do a damn thing" to stop the Islamic Republic in its nuclear pursuit, he said.
“If Iran’s nuclear case is not resolved logically through discussions at the [International] Atomic Energy Agency, it is better for Iran to withdraw this organisation. Take note, just like in the [Iran-Iraq war] they cannot do a damn thing".
The top security official called on leaders of Iran’s neighbouring countries to side with the Islamic Republic so that foreign forces would be forced to leave the region.
He said that Iran’s ambition was to become a regional superpower.
And yet, the Europeans continue to pretend that Iran can be negotiated with.
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China has penetrated the CIA
Buried in an article about Porter Goss
covering up for George Tenet's 9/11 failures in a political deal with the devil meant to keep CIA's monopoly on human intelligence is this extremely disturbing tidbit:
Although the Helgerson report is history, a fresh problem is brewing for the CIA. There is an agency-wide counterintelligence focus on a suspected Chinese penetration. The Chinese penetration is not believed to rise to the Richard Ames level, according to those familiar with the matter, but it comes at a bad time for a wounded agency struggling to regain its footing.
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